News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd September 2010

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the first productions in the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre and refurbished Swan Theatre, after their 'on time and on budget', 4 year, 112.8m redevelopment. In a 'safety first' move, these will be transfers from the Courtyard Theatre. In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, King Lear, directed by David Farr, will play from 23rd February, in repertoire with Romeo And Juliet, directed by Rupert Goold, from 3rd March, with the first new productions opening as part of the RSC's 50th birthday celebrations in April. The Swan Theatre will reopen with Antony And Cleopatra, directed by Michael Boyd, from 3rd March; and the Young People's Shakespeare productions of Hamlet and The Comedy Of Errors; plus a new puppet production of The Tempest, created by Little Angel Theatre, directed by Peter Glanville, from 11th March; and workshop performances of Shakespeare's poem The Rape Of Lucrece, directed by Elizabeth Freestone, including sung text by Camille O'Sullivan, from 30th March. Prior to this there will be a series of preview events, activities and tours of the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 24th November.

In addition, the Royal Shakespeare Company is to stage the premieres of 3 plays at the Hampstead Theatre at Swiss Cottage. Rona Munro's Little Eagles, directed by Roxana Silbert, opening on 21st April; Silence, directed David Farr, devised with Filter, opening on 18th May; and Tarrell Alvin McCraney's American Trade, directed by Jamie Lloyd, opening on 8th June.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Ticket sales reached an all time high of 1,955,913, up 5.2% on the previous record set last year. There were 40,254 performances of 2,453 shows in 259 venues, featuring 21,148 performers, up from 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows in 265 venues, featuring 18,901 performers in 2009. 558 shows were free, compared to 465 in 2009. Comedy was the biggest category, making up 35% of the programme, with Theatre 29%, Music 16%, Musicals and Opera 5%, Dance and Physical Theatre 4.5%, Events 4.5%, Children's 4% and Exhibitions 2%. The Fringe represents 75% of the overall Edinburgh festivals market share, and generates around 75m for the local economy. The Festival Fringe Society is already circulating information for companies wanting to appear in next year's Fringe, running from 5th to 29th August. Interested parties can subscribe to receive a monthly email bulletin, and download a substantial amount of advice about venues, and mounting and selling a show - but they should remember to factor into their calculations that the average audience size for a Fringe show is 6 (or is that just an urban myth?). Further information can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Julie Graham, Daisy Beaumont, Richard Clothier, Paul Freeman, Polly Kemp and Tom Weston-Jones make up the cast of Shelagh Stephenson's Enlightenment, opening at Hampstead Theatre on 6th October; and Nigel Lindsay and Nigel Harman will join Amanda Holden and Richard Blackwood in Shrek The Musical, opening at Drury Lane Theatre on 7th June.

The National Theatre has announced the second season of NT Live, which sees its productions screened live in cinemas across Britain and Europe. The season, which will also include productions from other theatres, will open on 23rd September with a repeat of last year's Phedre, with Helen Mirren; followed by Complicite's A Disappearing Number, from the Theatre Royal Plymouth, on 14th October; Hamlet, with Rory Kinnear and Clare Higgins, on 9th December; Fela!, with Sahr Ngaujah, on 13th January; King Lear, with Derek Jacobi, from the Donmar Warehouse, on 3rd February; Frankenstein, on 17th March; and The Cherry Orchard, with Zoe Wanamaker, on 30th June. The first season reached 165,000 people on 320 screens in 22 countries.

The spring season at the Donmar Warehouse will include the British premiere of the Tony Award winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, book by Rachel Sheinkin, music and lyrics by William Finn, telling the stories of six teenagers through the course of a spelling contest, directed by Jamie Lloyd, with choreography by Ann Yee, from 11th February; Harold Pinter's Moonlight, in which a dying man rehashes his life and the betrayal of his wife, while simultaneously (and separately) his sons talk about their estrangement from him, directed by Bijan Sheibani, from 7th April; and Friedrich Schiller's Luise Miller, about a bourgeois young woman in love with a prince and the powerful forces that keep them apart, in a new version by Mike Poulton, with Felicity Jones, directed by Michael Grandage, from 8th June.

Theatre Delicatessen, the found space in a derelict building at 3 Picton Place, behind Selfridges, is to stage Theatre Souk, a 'pop up' theatre event from 14th September to 16th October. All kinds of theatre companies and performers will present 20 continuous interactive shows related to the theme of money, in rooms and corridors, kitchens and cupboards throughout the 4 storey building.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre. Upcoming highlights include: the British premiere of Philip Glass's In The Penal Colony, libretto by Rudolph Wurlitzer, adapted from a short story by Franz Kafka, a study of man's inhumanity and intolerance, of authority and cruelty, and of the process of execution, with Michael Bennett, Omar Ebrahim and Gerald Tyler, directed by Michael McCarthy, from 15th to 18th September, a Music Theatre Wales production; Pleasure's Progress, music by Paul Englishby, libretto by Alastair Middleton, combining dance, voice and music to tell the stories of the characters in William Hogarth's satirical tales-in-art The Rake's Progress, Marriage A-la-mode, A Harlot's Progress, Beer Street and Gin Lane, with Laura Caldow, Anna Dennis, Matthew Hart, Matthew Sharp, Nuno Silva, Tom Solomon and Clemmie Sveaas, directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett, from 23rd to 26th September; the world premiere of Alexander Goehr's Promised End, libretto by Frank Kermode, adapted from Shakespeare's King Lear, directed by James Conway, from 9th to 16th October, and The Duenna, the comic opera about a forced marriage, music by Thomas Linley, libretto by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, directed by Michael Barker-Caven, from 13th to 16th October, English Touring Opera productions.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Roundabout Theatre Company revue Sondheim On Sondheim, featuring the songs of Stephen Sondheim, punctuated with interview footage of the writer discussing his work, conceived and directed by James Lapine, which played on Broadway earlier this year, may be London bound; and that Matthew Fox may star in a new play by Neil LaBute, In A Forest Dark And Deep, about a brother and sister coming to terms with their lives during a stormy evening, in the West End next spring. The Rumour Machine grinds on.